Youth volunteering guidelines

Guidelines to help the third sector, community groups and partners in the public and private sector offer practical and effective volunteering opportunities to young people.


The contribution that our young people make to our communities, country and society is incredible and we want to see even more young people given the opportunity to volunteer.

That's why these guidelines are so important. They aim to help the third sector, community groups and partners in the public and private sector offer practical and effective volunteering opportunities to our young people.

We already know that young people's engagement in volunteering is similar to the average for all adults. The most recent Scottish Household Survey statistics showed that 48% of 16-24 year olds volunteered in some form in 2018 and 26% of 16-24 year olds engaged in formal volunteering in 2019. Both figures were similar for adults, however in terms of formal volunteering that number fell from a high of 33% in 2010. This shows that while there is much to celebrate, there is far more we can do to encourage our young people to experience all that volunteering can bring to them and their communities.

Volunteering has never been more necessary or needed. It has been critical to the country's resilience and response to COVID-19, and more generally it is crucial to help us make Scotland a fairer and more prosperous country with equality of opportunity for all. 'Volunteering for All', our National Volunteering Framework, sets out our shared vision for volunteering and defines the key outcomes for volunteering in Scotland over the next ten years. To help ensure the ambitions in our Framework are translated into action, we are committed to developing a delivery plan. Moreover, we set out in the 2020/21 Programme for Government a commitment to develop a Young Person's Guarantee. Importantly, this includes engagement in formal volunteering as part of its ambition, demonstrating the importance we attach to enabling young people to volunteer.

In developing these guidelines, we were clear that they needed to be shaped and honed by the real experts – the young people themselves. The Youth Volunteering Innovation Project (Youth VIP) was formed as part of the development of 'Volunteering or All' by Project Scotland and Young Scot. This group of young volunteers, from a variety of backgrounds, have brought their stories and experience to bear to ensure these guidelines are authentic and reflective of the needs of the sector.

These guidelines do not sit alone but are part of a wider Scottish Government response to the Youth VIP. The Youth VIP made 13 recommendations, which were agreed in principle by the Scottish Government. The guidelines and the associated training fulfil recommendations 1 and 2. Going forward, I want to ensure that every young person gets the best chance to undertake volunteering, whether it's for their own enjoyment, personal development or as part of their journey to the workplace.

To do that, we must ensure that volunteering opportunities are of quality, planned, supported and evaluated with the particular needs of the young person in mind. These guidelines are also designed to help increase understanding, confidence and provide reassurance about taking on and supporting a young person in their volunteering journey where there may be some concerns.

As a generation that have been particularly impacted by the restrictions brought about by the pandemic, I would encourage every organisation in Scotland to think afresh about the volunteering opportunities that they can provide to our young people. We want the experience to be positive for the volunteer and the volunteer supporter and will continue to work hard with partners to ensure the right supports and infrastructure are in place.

Our young people are talented, inspiring, and Scotland has so much it can gain from enabling that contribution to flourish - we can only do that if we all work together to make it happen.

Aileen Campbell MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government



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